Altamont Athletes and Coaches Differ on Playing in Masks

Maya Davis

Maya Davis

Thursday, October 21, 2021
Altamont Athletes and Coaches Differ on Playing in Masks

Photo by Maya Davis.

This year has been tough for all of us as we are still in a global pandemic. Altamont’s main goal is to always keep everyone safe and healthy. Many schools have now made masks optional to wear while in school and while playing indoor sports. Here at Altamont, masks must be worn while inside the building and while playing indoor sports. A series of interviews on the subject follows:


How long have you been coaching here at Altamont?  

This will be my 34th year coaching here at Altamont. 

Which teams do you coach here? 

I coach fifth- and sixth-grade grade cross country, seventh- and eighth-grade grade girls basketball, and girls varsity tennis. 

So you coach indoor and outdoor sports? 


For this year, how has it been coaching since our school has made masks mandatory for indoor sports and optional for outdoor sports? 

I think the students and coaches have agreed to do it and you know, have been told to do it. So when you’re indoors we know we have to wear them, but once were outside it’s up to the player whether or not they want to wear it. I can’t imagine how players feel when we’re inside and they're running with something that’s making it hard to breathe. From this we now take more breaks than usual just to make sure everyone is fine.

What are your concerns for your players when you see them conditioning and practicing in the mask?  

There’s a lot that goes through my mind. Like I said, I can’t imagine having a mask on while running full speed, but the kids are adapting to it well. I understand why we need to wear them but I do believe its hard for athletes and I don’t think they are in contact with others long enough to transmit the virus.

Have you noticed any changes in your players' performance since having to wear masks?  

Umm, I don’t know if there’s been a change in performance but students have decided not to play instead because they had to wear a mask, or some have chosen not to play because other teams decided not to wear masks.


Can you tell us your name and position on the volleyball Team?  

Maya DeValk, outside hitter and setter.

Helen Ezelle, middle hitter.

How do y’all feel about the school making it mandatory for the team to play in masks? 

Helen: I really don’t like that we must wear a mask while we’re playing. Especially because we didn’t have to wear them last year when no one was vaccinated.  

Maya: I understand that masks are important and I know why the school wants us to wear them. However, requiring me to wear a mask while playing is asking too much. Especially since most of our opponents aren’t wearing them. In a way it's like we’re protecting them rather than protecting ourselves. 

Do you believe you would play better without wearing a mask?

Helen: I think we would play a lot better without masks because volleyball requires a lot of communication. Every play, the whole team needs to be communicating and masks are kind of making it hard to do that. I’ve really struggled so far. Its hard to keep up due to all the running and jumping you must do in volleyball. It also makes it harder to catch your breath. I don’t know how Maya Davis and Maya DeValk are able to do it since they’re the only ones who don’t have a sub.

Maya: I think it gives the opposing team an advantage. Like Helen said, talking is a key component to volleyball and wearing mask makes it hard for my teammates to hear me. As a setter, your teammates have to listen to you so they can know what to do. Especially my hitters.


How long have you been coaching here? 

“I have been coaching here for three years. I am the head boys varsity basketball coach, fifth- and sixth-grade grade basketball coach, and I also serve as the Athletic Director.” 

How has it been seeing your boys play and condition in masks? 

It took them a little while to adjust to it. At first it was kind of hard, but I would say two weeks went by and it turned out fine. 

Have you noticed your players struggle, or have you seen a difference in their performance level during conditioning? 

When we started, I could tell guys were struggling to breathe. They were getting winded quicker than normal. Because of what we had noticed, Coach Ford and I decided to give more breaks than usual.

How is it coaching in a mask? Do you face any struggles? 

No, I don’t think so, not for me at least. By the time we got to basketball season we were already used to masks, but then again, I'm not running up and down a court, I'm just standing screaming and barking out orders. So I don’t think I had any problems. 

If it were up to you, would you make masks mandatory for players? 

Yes, yes, I would. I hear the complaints from parents, and I hear the players complaints. For me it’s a small sacrifice to make so we can continue to be in school every day. So, if it was my call, I would do it the same way as it is now.

Do you believe our school is at a disadvantage, since other schools aren’t being forced to wear masks? 

In my opinion, one would think that there’s a disadvantage, but I don’t think so, because teams who don’t play in masks also don’t practice in masks. Teams who play in masks also practice in masks. Now, if we went to games in masks but didn’t practice in them, then there would be a disadvantage. To me it’s even ground so my answer is no.

To share your thoughts on this or anything else you've see in The Acta Diurna, to suggest story ideas, or to become a contributor, email